Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
December 29, 2008 9:28 PM

Podcasting Is Not Even On Life Support

This post would have been called, Podcasting Is Not Dead, if that had not already been the title of a Blog posting here on September 20th. There was recently news that Podango - some kind of Podcasting related company - might be filing for bankruptcy. Any time something like this happens, the "Podcasting is dead" Blog postings and media attention quickly follows. Here's the newsflash: Podcasting is not dead. Podcasting is not even on life support. Podcasting hasn't even begun to breathe with its own two lungs yet.

There are many companies that looked at Podcasting as a mass media channel. They felt - be it with the audio or video versions of Podcasting - that the opportunity would be in creating either channels or stations where all of this varied and niche content could reside, and once it is aggregated it would be appealing to the media and advertising community. It was not a bad play, but it may simply have been too early to make it work efficiently from an advertising perspective. I don't know anything about Podango, but by the looks of their website, that's what they were banking on.

Podcasting is not a mass media. Podcasting is all about small audiences built around very niche content. The mass media adaptation of their content for the Podcasting channel is already being monetized through their existing advertising deals.

Upon hearing the news about Podango, Chris Brogan had a great Blog posting titled, Podcasting Isn’t Exactly Dead, where one of his more salient points was, "I’ve been trashed a few times by the old guard of podcasting for saying similar things. The thing is, podcasting isn’t exactly dead - it’s different than we all planned." This is where the music industry analogy kicks in. Indie music artists are always pissed off at the major labels for ruining "their thing" with all the bubble gum pop and cookie-cutter bands they sign and market. Sadly, this is the type of music that breaks through and is accepted by the masses. This does not diminish the power, value and creativity of indie artists. This is the same for Podcasting. Just because For Immediate Release - The Hobson and Holtz Report Podcast does not attract the advertising clout of McDonalds does not make it any less valuable to those interested in the best insights you can get on public relations and marketing.

What is the reality of Podcasting?

The reality is that most Podcasts fall into three categories:

1. Independently produced content (like For Immediate Release and the Six Pixels of Separation Podcast).
2. Mass media re-produced content (like CBC's Search Engine or BusinessWeek's Cover Stories).
3. High quality - highly targeted content (like when companies develop Podcasts. See GE On Demand or Whirlpool's The American Family).

None of these should be considered mass media content that would be of immediate value to advertisers who deal mostly in the mainstream TV, Radio, Print and Out-of-home world. That all being said, there is no slow down of sales for iPods and the integration of portable digital media players and the mobile channels (just look at what you can do with an iPhone or BlackBerry Bold) is still very nascent. As excited as people still are about Blogs, there will be (and to a certain degree, there already is) a very similar feeling about grabbing audio and video content in this on-demand and time-shifted fashion.

Are you still excited about Podcasting or are you ready to put one of the nails in the coffin?

Bonus: on Wednesday, December 31st at 12:30 pm EST, Joseph Jaffe will be recording his audio Podcast, Jaffe Juice, live where the debate about Podcasting will continue. Jaffe has reached out to fellow Podcasters Shel Holtz, Neville Hobson, Adam Curry, Cliff Ravenscraft, David Jones, Terry Fallis, John Wall, Christopher S. Penn, Lee Hopkins, and your truly to join him. You can take part too by going here: Jaffe Juice via Talkshoe or you can read more about it here: One more thing before the ball drops: Is Podcasting dead or not?

By Mitch Joel